Friday, November 19, 2010

Scan This !

The past few days have reminded me why I have avoided flying for more than two years. And my last two flights weren't my choice. I had to handle a matter in Las Vegas, fast, and then get back three weeks later just as fast. I managed to smuggle a pen knife and a couple of other deadly weapons on my body, but I forgot they make you take your shoes off, so they found my bomb.

Luckily I had a civilian trial, so I'm free to bore you with my opinions on government unfettered by a conviction for terrorism. Is this a great country or what? OK, you got me. I made most of that up. But the Vegas trip was true, and even then I felt like an accused felon being checked for weapons. And all of this was before they instituted the latest wastes of time, energy and money. I didn't have to make the choice of getting a blast of carcinogenic rays or getting felt up by a drooling moron who finally got off unemployment and went to work for the TSA.

Now the truth is that unlike the gal in the photo, I am neither a vegan nor do I have the same toned gender equipment. But I'm not crazy about being bombarded by dangerous machine emissions, and I've always had a certain reticence about being touched intimately by total strangers (well, at least since I left Berkeley). I'm not particularly shy, but I prefer to make the choice of when and to whom I'm going to show my private parts. And no, I'm not talking about that incident at the porn theater.

The TSA says we shouldn't be upset because they give us a choice. That's like my doctor saying I have the choice of cancer or a heart attack. Or simply the old choice of the devil or the deep blue sea. Of course there is the third choice, which is to say screw this, I just won't fly. That's the one I've chosen, and intend to stick to until the government decides to hire Mossad to conduct airport security. Then I'll know I'm safe--both from terrorists and the hands of amateurs who have no idea what they're doing. Of course there would always be the issue of ethnic profiling, but since 98% of airline terrorists have been Middle Eastern Muslims, I'll take that option.

This is supposed to be a banner year for the airlines at Thanksgiving. I'd rather stay home and give thanks that I'm not at an airport waiting to be X-rayed by some machine that will show the steel pin in my leg as a lethal weapon or being groped by a dull-normal government employee (who is likely soon to be a union employee who can't even be fired). If the 24 million people expected to fly this Thanksgiving would follow my lead, the airlines and the government would both get the message very quickly.

I loved flying in the old days. I commuted back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles on a regular basis. Boy, do I miss PSA and those stewardesses. And there was the freedom of deciding on a whim to head for New York or New Orleans for an unplanned weekend. Today, the airport security check (and I use that term very loosely) takes longer than the flight. I'm not known for my ability to keep my opinion to myself, and I suspect the first time one of those losers ordered me to submit to one or the other of the useless procedures, I'd probably be saying something far worse than "if you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." At least if a cop makes such a demand of you, you've probably done something suspicious that has drawn his attention, and he's likely to know exactly what he's doing.

That's a major part of the fallacious security measures being taken today. Unable to distinguish between a sweet old Swedish grandmother and a turbaned Middle Easterner with crazed eyes mumbling "Allahu akbar" everybody is treated as a potential terrorist. No logic, no signs, no observation--everybody's a possible mass murderer. It wouldn't help if they tried to use the Israeli methods which have been so successful, since the Israeli security people are highly-trained professionals and our TSA employees are people who failed the tests for jobs as street-sweepers. Our geniuses couldn't distinguish between an elephant and an elephant seal.

Instead of looking directly into the passenger's eyes and asking pertinent question while observing body language and listening for inconsistent answers, our Transportation Silliness Agents stumblingly read the questions off a card they can't seem to memorize and don't even watch the person they're questioning. If they're not reading from the card, they're looking off into the distance for the airline clock that will tell them it's time for lunch. "Gee, Mr. bin Laden, are you planning on blowing up any buildings or airplanes today?" "Nope" "OK--next passenger."

The other problem is that the screeners (and their idiot bosses and the dumbass politicians) spend all their time concentrating on everything more hardened than a Q-Tip as being potentially dangerous in the air, and no time at all considering the importance of keeping a dangerous person on the ground and off the plane. Box cutters were used by the 9/11 terrorists, so now we can't carry penknives. Some explosives can be liquified, so now we can't carry over a certain amount of apple juice or mother's milk. A shoe-bomber almost pulled it off, so now we all have to take our shoes off, as if the silly screeners would know a shoe-bomb when they saw one, on or off the passenger's foot. Those lethal weapons wouldn't have been lethal if the jihadists hadn't been allowed on the plane in the first place.

As for the present garbage security, a ridiculously suspicious scumbag boarded a Christmas flight to Detroit with murder in his heart and explosives in his crotch, so now Grandma Johanssen has to have her nether regions scanned or groped. There were at least seven significant signs that the underwear bomber was too dangerous to be allowed on an airline flight, and his underwear was the least of them. I guarantee he never would have gotten on that plane if he had tried to embark from Tel Aviv airport.

The liar, liar pants on fire panty bomber wasn't even stopped on the plane until smoke started emanating from his trousers. Was he thwarted in his nefarious scheme by the pilot, the co-pilot, and air marshal, or one of the flight attendants? Nope. An observant and alert Dutch filmmaker didn't think people's crotches should be smoking under any circumstances, so he jumped on the damned fool and poured liquid on his flaming pants. Maybe we could just eliminate the TSA employees and hire Dutch filmmakers to do the screenings before the lowlives get on board a plane. "Observant" and "alert" are not words I would use to describe the TSA employees I've seen. "Semi-conscious" comes a great deal closer.

The Constitution forbids only a certain type of discrimination, and the definition applies to "ethnic profiling." That is a political concept, not a legal one. Sooner or later there's going to be one too many complaints from suspicious looking and behaving Middle Easterners about discrimination, and we might finally see a clear exoneration of profiling at the Supreme Court. The Court has already made it clear that it is not "discrimination" that is forbidden, but "invidious" discrimination. That means discrimination which is arbitrary, capricious, irrational, and not reasonably related to a legitimate purpose. A 98% Middle Eastern terrorist fact, combined with the clear need to protect airline passengers and the folks on the ground eliminates any sensible argument about singling out a certain group for special attention before boarding planes. It's not arbitrary, it's completely rational (statistically and factually), and what can be more reasonable than saving large numbers of lives?

So I'm suggesting that the next time you think of flying for any reason other than a dire emergency, cancel the flight and instead send a letter to the airline stating that you have chosen not to fly, and will continue to do so until the airlines, airports, TSA and politicians get their act together and institute genuine airport security instead of an expensive, intrusive sham. It might give the new Congress and hopefully the next administration the idea that the nonsensical, bureaucratic, welfare-to-workfare phony security imposed by TSA and Janet Napoleontano at Homeland Insecurity is making airline travel extremely undesirable. That is damaging to a very important, money-producing, tax-paying major business. I think the proper term for this waste of time and energy and violation of personal privacy is "counterproductive."


Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - I'm sorry for your groping. As Anne Coulter stated: "please have your genitalia out and ready for groping." Profiling would work much better. As it is algore and the TSA are killing off the airline industry quite nicely.

I feel fortunate I have limited my flying so drastically compared to my corporate days.

StanH said...

“Too professionalize, you must first federalize.” You guys remember that’s what Tom (Puff) Daschle told us. Now I understand why he was smiling and rubbing his little grubby statist hands together at the formation of another dumbass federal agency. You would think that the CEOs of all of the airlines heads would be exploding, and move posthaste to privatize the screening process, which was written into the law, as long as there is TSA overview, you can opt out. Picking up on what Jed said, Ann Coulter made the point about, “what if the anal cavity is used to conceal a bomb?” (which by the way has been used by Islamo-Goons) …it’s frightening too think what their solution would be. And you’re right Lawhawk, flying used to be fun.

Joel Farnham said...


TSA is thinking of expanding this TOTALITARIANISM to busses, subways, ships etc etc.

I thought it was bad when you had to get through with taking off shoes and belts. Now, it seems the perverts at TSA are getting their jollies by grabbing or viewing our naked bodies.

I wouldn't feel so bad if all of TSA did it naked. You know fair is fair.

Game Master Rob Adams said...

"I wouldn't feel so bad if all of TSA did it naked. You know fair is fair."

The number of actually attractive people in TSA is not that high so I'll pass.

LawHawk: I have flown for my job for the past three years and every time I fly I get more and more insensitive people trying to fondle my belongings (among other things). The last time I flew I had to toss out my toothpaste and shaving cream because it was too big. Since I had to fly for my job I held back my witty retort and instead said that I did not want it after they touched it anyway. I claimed it was because I was not sure where their hands had been. They didn't think it was funny. I didn't think they were funny. We were even.

I did wear a shirt that said "I heart zombies" the heart was not written out so much as an actual human heart complete with ventricles and the TSA girl commented it was not appropriate. I said "Yeah but how many guys have you really talked to today?" she blushed. Score one for the passenger and to your point Joel she's one that could have done the fair is fair deal and been naked too and I would have been OK with that.

My thoughts on the matter though is that we need to go back to a private security force ala black water and let them actually shoot the terrorists. Maybe something like that delicious email I received from my father that described a new screening technique under blast proof glass that would automatically set off any bombs one was carrying on their person without resulting injury to other parties. That's not profiling that's perfect!


AndrewPrice said...

If this actually achieved anything, then it would be easier to dismiss as necessary in the modern age. But like all of this stuff, this is form over substance and it will stop exactly ZERO problems.

Joel Farnham said...


Two reasons I say that. First there won't be some fascist uniform to intimidate people. Second, not too many people would be willing to work naked while checking out clothed passengers.

To my way of thinking, pat downs and virtual strip-searches are a constitutional question. Unreasonable search and seizures are being done on a daily basis with our knowlege and approval. It automatically states that we the citizens are criminals. That is an unreasonable assumption. This is what the British did back before the Revolution. They searched peoples homes because they were colonists. The government now searches us because we are fliers not because we are terrorists.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee: I have a strong libertarian streak, particularly about matters sexual. But this whole mass public groping in any other context would be considered hysterical perversion. It's like making a child molester the principal of an elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Joel: Have you ever taken a good look at some of the shoppers at Wal-Mart? The worst of them are future TSA employees, and I seriously don't want them checking me or my family out, let alone taking their own clothes off. Yuck.

Anonymous said...

ACG: It looks like you and I have the same revulsion toward TSA employees taking their clothes off. LOL

That's just what we need. Dull-normals hired by the TSA becoming critics of our taste in tee-shirts. I probably would have told your zombie critic "if you don't think that's funny, here, pull my finger."

Anonymous said...

Andrew: The government, and particularly this government, is totally dedicated to the concept of the glorification of expensive form over genuine substance. But try to see the bright side--look how many jobs Obama is creating for mentally disordered sex offenders who will now get on-the-job training at the taxpayers' expense.

Joel Farnham said...


Prima-facie is this new TSA procedure is a violation of the fourth amendment. Unreasonable searches. Unreasonable is because the majority of the flying public are being treated worse than the drug-dealer on the corner.

Just because some idiot from the government says it isn't so, doesn't make it so.

I think the change should be all of Congress should be required to go through what the citizens go through. As it stands right now, they get to bypass all of this TSA nonsense. This is the true elitist crap that most people can understand and get upset about.

I also think that it won't do a bit of good. It just manages to make people think twice before willing to go through the TSA hassle all the while lulling people asleep to actual terrorist attacks.

Ponderosa said...

To deal with our own government...

we must waive our inalienable rights.

Anonymous said...

Joel: That is the argument that will probably be the main thesis in any legal attack on the procedures. If there were any proof or any evidence that these procedures had a high-level of success or potential success, the search would not be unreasonable and the seizure of your toothpaste or penknife would be iffy. But several experts have declared unequivocally that they could smuggle enough explosives past the scanners to bring down a 747--easily. And the patdowns by amateur pervs won't detect "internal packages" which is what drug smugglers routinely use.

Depending on where they depart and what kind of flight they take, even Congress critters are not exempt. A few years back, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan got caught in one of those patdowns at a small airport in New York before the more stringent standards were put into place. One of his aides told the screeners "this is a United States Senator." Back came the mindless bureaucratic reply: "Rules are rules." About the only Congressman who could get away with smuggling high explosives in quantity on his person is Dennis Kucinich who only flies UFO Interplanet Airlines.

Anonymous said...

Ponderosa: Ah, but don't forget the gummint says we have the choice to submit or not submit. If we don't want to submit, we can simply choose not to fly. What they don't realize is there is a whole nation of free men and women who don't think that's a legitimate choice, but nevertheless will take their suggestion. Don't fly. I'm among those people. The key is not to be silent about it. I've already let Southwest Airlines know that I will no longer be flying to San Francisco or Los Angeles as long as I must give up my Constitutional right to be secure in my person, papers and effects because they can't tell Osama bin Laden from Mother Teresa.

Writer X said...

Unfortunately I have no choice about traveling. I have to. Frequently. And while I'm all for keeping planes safe, this new "love-pat" patdown does not make me feel safer, especially as I watch old ladies and three-year-olds getting pat-downs.

Could you just imagine the media outrage (among other things) had this been implemented during the Bush Administration? There would have been 24/7 media vigils outside airports. The usual congressmen and congresswoman would be getting all hysterical (Can you say, Rangel, Schumer, Waters?!) Code Pink would have catapulted back to relevancy. Since it's done on Obama's watch, they're called "love pats." Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

WriterX: I recognize that some people have no choice. Like you, plane travel is a requirement for them. I'm not sure how you can register your protest short of getting yourself arrested, but there must be some creative people out there who can come up with a way. I'm just glad that extensive plane travel is no longer part of my business life.

And you are so right about how the press, activists and pundits handle this situation differently on Obama's watch from the way they would on Bush or Reagan's watch. The same people who scream bloody murder about traffic-cams invading their privacy have no problem being zapped with radiation and felt-up at an airport simply because the Messiah and his disciples think it's a good idea.

Ponderosa said...

The 4th Amendment is not applicable to Southwest Airlines (a mostly private enterprise) if it is directly responsible for security. With no government involvement there are at least far fewer issues.

But of course the government does step in and with that our rights are 'activated' (better word?). We are now protected against unreasonable searches. Great.

But no, to get to the plane we are required to waive our rights. Instead of having stronger guarantees and greater legal protection – we end up with less, being treated worse, and fewer avenues of recourse.

The Bill of Rights was put in place “in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers”.

However, the government regularly intervenes in such a manner that it requires citizens to waive protections in order to engage their services or even those of private enterprise.

Probably to literal but if the BofR were to be viewed as a restraining order would a judge even allow communication much less groping?

We shouldn't lose rights when we interact with the govt.

Anonymous said...

Ponderosa: And I would add that the federal government has increasingly stuck its nose into private businesses which conduct large public operations. The Fourth Amendment line has been blurring for years. We are quickly losing our privacy and personal security without any corresponding gain in real security.

BevfromNYC said...

I'm flying on Sunday, so I will let y'all know how it goes. There's nothing like a good grope at 7 O'clock in the morning! The NYC Counsel is trying to ban the x-ray machines from the NY airports, but I don't think it will happen before Sunday.

I just read that pilots are now exempt from most scanning. I'm sure the flight attendants will be next. I don't blame them for complaining.

I just read an article this morning in the NY Post that is very similar. Why don't we use the Israeli method? The writer opined that our methods are "reactive" and that terrorists rarely use the same method twice, so our security is also pointless. THe Israeli security guys are highly trained to spot the potential evil doers and it seems to have been effective about 100% of the time for a very long time. What is wrong with us??

Ponderosa said...

Me: The inverting of rights keeps showing up.

1st Amendment: Freedom from religion; freedom of speech unless you get a tax break (501c3) or receive funds; press? Are you kidding? see the FCC FEC; go ahead riot what do we care; feel free to send a letter

On and on and on.

Seems like we're not in Kansas anymore and haven't been since what '68? FDR? 1913?

LH: Yes, yes Ponderosa, not bad. Well actually it is worse than you can possibly know.
I always feel so much better. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Bev: Good luck and happy feel-up. LOL The Airline Pilots Association filed a lawsuit and requested a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction, so they may have gotten them. I'm happy for them, but if there's anyone who can bring down a plane fast, it's the pilots. Again, form over substance.

Anonymous said...

Ponderosa: All of which tells me two things. We need to keep our current conservative Supreme Court Justices alive and well. And we need to nominate and elect a conservative constitutionalist as President who can give us a longterm conservative Supreme Court by appointing two or three strict constructionists to replace the fading old farts like Ginsburg.

Tehachapi Tom said...

An e-mail with the best security check system was in my in box last week.

It explained a new development had been made that could detonate any explosive known.
The suggestion was to construct strong booths where a traveler would step into and if they had an explosive on their person it would be safely detonated. This booth also had an automatic wash rinse and sanitize cycle so the next person would have a clean sanitary booth to step into.
No ex-rays and no need for trials or court hearings, all solved and over with.

I might be willing to fly again if these devices were in use.

Anonymous said...

Tehachapi Tom: Another of our readers mentioned that as well. I think it's the best security idea I've ever heard. Instant justice. We wouldn't have to waste time with a civilian jury, or even a military tribunal. In one brief second, we're safer and another jihadist is on his way to collect his virgins.

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